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Rebuilding the Economy

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 3 December 2020

Tags: Economy, Climate Change, Jobs

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, we cannot talk about any sort of an economic future if we do not start looking to the near and the long future and considering all the factors will going to affect the possibility for jobs and prosperity in Tasmania. The biggest drivers of our capacity to flourish as an island state in the future are climate change and the heating of the planet.

The changes that will, and must, bring to how we move goods and services around in Tasmania and to other countries, the way we grow food, the way we produce goods, the choice of how we live our lives for safety in a changing climate, the sorts of services we promote, the ones we have to stop promoting - these are fundamental factors that will shape the future economic wellbeing and prosperity of Tasmania. We have to look at climate change. That is something the Government has not done well enough by any means in this Budget and in its projections.

We still do not have a state climate change act, we still do not have a plan for the next four years, and we still do not have a government that is measuring our carbon emissions by sectors instead of for the whole state. We are in a great position as Tasmania for overall being net 100 per cent carbon emissions neutral but that is not what is reflected when we pull apart what is happening in the agricultural, manufacturing and waste sectors. These are going up in their emissions and we have to bring them down.

This Budget was a huge missed opportunity for doing what we needed to do to introduce a safe climate commission. The Greens have funded not only a safe climate commission but also the architecture needed to roll out adaptation plans and emissions reductions plans across all local council areas, across all sectors; fundamentally what we commit to is restoring and maintaining our existing carbon stores. That is an essential part of the future productivity of Tasmania.

The fact is we have not had full and genuine employment in Australia since 1975. We have not done that. We cannot go back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic and what it has done to our business community and to job opportunities for young people in particular, but for all Tasmanians. We cannot go back to normal. We do not want to go back to normal, because normal was terrible for so many people. We have to tackle the climate crisis and recover from the pandemic together by resetting the economy and the social system. That is why we need a jobs guarantee.

This parliament endorsed the Government to investigate a jobs guarantee just a month or so ago. That is because we collectively acknowledge that the economic shock waves of COVID-19 will continue for years and we understand that employment and underemployment were already significant and ongoing issues before the pandemic in Tasmania.

We also agreed as a parliament that intergenerational inequality has meant that we have poor economic, health and educational outcomes for so many thousands of Tasmanians. The majority of people are unemployed and underemployed, and those people are in unfortunate circumstances that are no fault of their own. Instead, they are the result of a period of neoliberalism where as a society we have treated human beings as units of a productive measure or not being productively employed, and people have been placed for decades now in the too-hard basket and we have had an entire economic system that has largely accepted that huge numbers of unemployed people are required in order to keep inflation down. That is no longer acceptable and we cannot justify it, especially as we move out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone needs a reliable and liveable income to meet basic needs like food, housing, health care, transport, bills and education. These are not a luxuries, these are the basics of life and today we will be talking about some of the basic requirements for a dignified life and a dignified death so we must understand that we have to guarantee these rights to every single Tasmanian, which is why we need a bill of rights in Tasmania because we clearly are not getting even the basics for every single person who lives in the state.

We know that we have the capacity to prioritise our budget to deliver a jobs guarantee for Tasmanians and the Greens have prioritised in our alternative budget a youth jobs guarantee which would be the first stage of a full jobs guarantee for Tasmania. We recognise this is something the Australian Government needs to step in and do. We also know we cannot leave young people in Tasmania on the scrapheap any longer and we can prioritise, as we have done, $240 million in the alternative budget, $80 million a year that guarantees a job for 18-25 year olds. It would initially be a maximum of 16 hours a week that would be offered with full leave and superannuation entitlements and 16 hours a week would be sufficient to meet Centrelink's mutual obligations.

We have also funded a minister for employment - we do not have one - a Tasmanian employment office and free TasTAFE, all central parts of an employment system.